Miffed by the provisions in the draft law to regularise coaching classes in the state, owners of tutorials plan to oppose the law which they term as “draconian and unfair”. The furore started after a draft of the state government’s proposed law on coaching classes, which has several provisions that coaching classes owners are opposing vehemently, was leaked online.
From a five per cent share in total revenue to be given to the state, to fixing fees and salaries of staffers, to regulating the timings of tutorials, class owners say multiple provisions of the proposed Act are stifling and go against the government’s own policies. While representatives of Maharashtra Coaching class Owners Association have already sent a letter to Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis expressing their displeasure, a representation of coaching class owners in Pune submitted a letter to the deputy director of education,Pune,on Friday. In the letter, coaching class owners have pointed out that their establishments come under Finance ministry as they operate under Companies Act or Partnership Act.
Since coaching class owners get no subsidies from the government and pay all taxes, including 18 per cent GST and income taxes, the industry is protesting the government’s proposal to levy 5 per cent share in the total revenue. Besides, the proposed draft discusses salaries of staffers, a maximum cap on fees to be collected from students and so on.
Durgesh Mangeshkar, founder-director of IIT Prakashan Kendra, said, “Regulation should not turn into strangulation. The coaching class owners are concerned about the provisions in the proposed Act which infringe on the financial autonomy of coaching institutions and impose Licence Raj and Inspector Raj on the coaching sector which is unfair as the coaching industry seeks no subsidy, favours or affiliations from the government and pays all taxes.
For the purpose of taxation, government allows the concept of profit on which it collects Income Tax from the coaching institutions. But, for regulatory purpose, the government wants to treat coaching institutes as not-for-profit government schools and control its functioning. This is a self-contradictory approach,” he said.
The draft which was leaked online was prepared by a committee of experts. But the only member of the committee from Pune, coaching class owner Sandeep Deodhar, said that none of the points enlisted in the draft were discussed. “There was a suggestion of coming up with some kind of registration process so that the government could keep track of how many big and small coaching classes are operating. But this kind of regulation where the government dictates salaries, fees, concessions and share in revenue was neither discussed nor acceptable. The government should not interfere in these aspects and besides it goes against PM Narendra Modi’s promise of minimum government, maximum governance,” said Deodhar.
While the infringement of financial autonomy remains one of the biggest arguments, other aspects that irk coaching class owners are the clauses that prohibit coaching classes to operate during timings which conflict with school and college timings and reservation of 5 per cent seats for Below Poverty Line (BPL) students.
“The restriction in the timing of classes will put more pressure on students as they will have less options to plan their studies. We appreciate the government’s concern for BPL students. But the proposal of reservation seems to be illogical as the total number of students can’t be predicted beforehand and hence we can’t deduce the absolute figure of five percent. If our intake increases, then should we hunt for BPL students by spending our resources to satisfy the clause? There are cases where students with BPL certificates have many undisclosed sources of income and fee waiver of such pseudo BPL students discourages many top students who have less earning and still have to pay full fee to the coaching classes,” said Lalit Kumar, founder director of Prime Academy.
But what has most coaching class owners riled is the clause for two years of rigorous imprisonment in case of violation. “Such a clause opens the door for inspectors to blackmail the coaching class owners,” says the letter sent to the deputy director of education.